Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Travel Tuesday - Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt was actually the very first trip I took upon arriving in Europe back in 1998. I liked it right off the bat. You walk out the train station and walk right into the Red Light District complete with junkies, prostitutes, and the many "Eros Centers" (multiple story brothels basically). But ignore all that and keep walking to find what makes the city so much fun to explore. Frankfurt seems so big and vast that it's hard to believe that it ranks only 6th in population in Germany. It's also the main transportation hub of Europe - the airport is the busiest in continental Europe. All of this contributes to make Frankfurt a true international city with a lot to offer the traveler. There is a pretty good metro system that makes it easy to get around.
The first thing you notice about Frankfurt are the buildings. It's one of the few cities in Europe with American style skyscrapers. This, combined with the fact that it lies on the Main River, is where it's nickname comes from - "Main-hattan". Another nickname - "Bank-furt" derives from the fact that Frankfurt is the banking capital of Germany. Intermingled with the skyscrapers are some medieval looking churches and towers, which gives Frankfurt a unique look and feel. It's cool to look up and see the futuristic looking skyscrapers, then look down and realize you're standing in a town square that looks like this:
Quite a contrast indeed.
For those who like to shop, the main shopping street is called the Zeil. It's crowded and intense. Because it's a big city, you can get a good variety of ethnic food there (Be sure to have a Turkish Doner Kebap). The one local specialty to try is the Apfelwein (apple-wine), it's absolutely delicious. But if you're like me, you judge a city by its nightlife. And I'm here to tell you that Frankfurt can hold it's own with almost any other city in Europe in that category. The main bar district is across the river in the old town and is called the Sachsenhausen. I've never been to a place that had so many people from so many different countries in one area before. One reason why is that the youth hostel is located in the Sachsenhausen. Here's a good picture of the Sachsenhausen:
It is a truly international drinking experience. You will meet more Australians here than you ever thought existed. On one of my trips, I was in an Irish Pub eating Irish stew and drinking a pint when a stunningly gorgeous blond walked by on her way to the restroom. On her way back, she stopped and asked (in a silky-smooth Aussie accent) "Excuse me, but if you're by yourself, would you like to join my friend and I?" You can imagine what's going through my mind! But my excitement was extinguished as soon as I got to their table - her "friend" was actually her boyfriend. But I made the best out of it and we ended up spending about 3 hours buying rounds and trading stories and travel adventures. It was the kind of thing that attracts me to traveling; open your mind and you'll be surprised how much fun you can have, as well as how much you'll learn about the world around you.
The next morning, as I walked back to the train station, I tried to walk around the sleaze of the Red Light District. I took a deserted side street and walked right into a junkie shooting up in a doorway. Scared the hell out of me, but he seemed just as scared as I was. All part of the Frankfurt experience...